I’m worried about my son being too lazy to work and live on his own

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a part-time working woman in my 50s, and I would like some advice about my son.

Last spring, when he was finishing his first year of graduate school, he spent most of his time in bed at home instead of looking for a job. When I asked him about his future, he said, “I don’t feel like doing anything, so I can’t do anything.” This spring, he finished his graduate school program without deciding what to do next.

His excuse for not doing anything with regards to his future is something like: “I’m just not interested in anything. I think you can only work hard when there are fun things in your life. I don’t see the point of working since there’s nothing I particularly enjoy. So I can’t hunt for a job.”

My son probably thinks like that because his father has been working away from home since he was in high school, which means he probably didn’t have many opportunities to learn what society is like. However, I’m worried that the way I raised him is the biggest reason he is like this now. It’s distressing to think my education may have ruined some of his talents.

My son now spends his days in a leisurely way that others may envy: He goes out with his friends when invited and eats as much as he wants of meals I prepare. How should I watch over him?

—S, Tokyo

Dear Ms. S:

Your son does not look for a job, and lives as he pleases. Because no one scolds him, he lives a life that could be even more leisured than that of an aristocrat. As for his quibbles — or his excuses — that he does not feel like doing anything because “there are no fun things” in his life, does that mean your son will only take action if there is something really fun for him to do?

I would love to teach him the old saying: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat!”

You wrote that the way you raised him might have been wrong, and that is probably the reason why he is the way he is now. However, do you honestly think you should criticize yourself in such a way at this stage of his life?

Instead, I think it is your job, as the parent of your son, to give hints about what life is, because he has no idea despite his age.

Of course, there is no point in lecturing your son about “harsh reality” in society. Instead, you should make concrete plans for the future with your husband and then tell your son about the plans.

For example, you can tell him he should live separately from his parents, and the household budget also should be completely separated between you two. You can tell him that since your husband and you need money for your twilight years, only a small amount of assets can be allocated for him. Having said all this, you can then tell him he can do whatever he wants for the rest of his life because it is, after all, his own life.

—Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist